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The Ecology of Democracy, Chapter 6 - Your point of view - 2

Hello Everyone,

Our classroom discussions have centered on a chapter you were assigned from The Ecology of Democracy.

This is a gentle reminder that your posts and responses are due by Monday, November 27th by midnight. Keep in mind, you are to write a well thought-out, meaningful reflection paper about your group project  and respond to two of your classmates papers, for a minimum total of three posts.

Remember, we are interested in your original thoughts and ideas! This assignment is designed to get you to think critically and engage in a civil discussion with your classmates about the democratic process of problem solving as it relates to you in the classroom and in the community.

Please do not wait until the last minute; post early and often. Each post will be graded based on the quality of the content. Your post should cover some aspect of the chapter you are reading including the problem, process, program and projected outcome. Please use this link to enter the website http://ecologyofdemocracy.org/.

You will make your posts in the classroom conversations area; under the thread The Ecology of Democracy Your point of View-2. You can also receive up to 20 points extra credit by answering the thread question: How do you understand the role of citizens or the citizenry in a democracy?  If you have not registered, you will need to do so. Feel free to catch me in class or shoot me an email if you have any questions.

Best

Comments

MMochoa's picture

In times like these, it is crucial to be informed. For example, the results of this years elections have lead to countless social media and real life riots. While this is not all due to misinformation, the case could definitely be made for connecting this public outrage with a ignorance in the general public. As the day progresses, I have seen more and more hate fueled rants full of things that I consider to be completely unfounded; such as people saying women will lose the right to vote, or that every non-white citizen will be deported. It is things like these that cause dissonance between a government and its people. If not for ourselves, we should strive to be informed for the good of everyone around us. A well informed public is a public that can make informed decisions and react to those decisions accordingly.

UM LaBombard's picture

One subject I felt the article touched on quite nicely was the idea of pride. Many Americans today vote and fight for things based on certain standards that they hold. In communitites, pride works as a way of bringing people together to work and fight for the city or area they live in. For example, after the terror attacks on the world trade center, many Americans felt united based on the similar pride and patriotism they felt for their country. Thus, the United States saw an increase in intercity cooperation, specifically in New York.

umramsey's picture

This chapter made me think about the role I played in the this years election versus the role I played in 2012 election. The election in 2012 I honestly didnt know that much about Obama but my family did and I was going with whatever they felt was right and til this day I dont regret my vote for Obama becasue I did my research after the fact and I also made sure I wouldnt just vote for someone becasue everyone else was ever again. So with this election I made sure I did my research and to be honest the candidate I was going with didnt even make it so I was left to choose between two people I didnt really agree with to begin with and was kinda forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. In the section Sound Judgement or Hasty Decisions? theres a statement that said "no amount of information is enough to fully inform the kind of decisions citizens have to make when the question is about the "right" thing to do" and that is how i feel alot of people felt during this election like what is really right in this situation regardless of their debates and what they claim they are going to do.

MMWagner's picture

I believe, especially now, it is so important for young people to be informed of what is going on around them. It helps us to make sound edcisions and limits our mistakes. Being uninformed can lead to more problems and we might not be able to fix them. Ignorance of the younger generations is a huge problem that is making itself apparent in huge numbers recently and it saddens me that this is what we deal with now. We have young adults who dont participate in elections because they dont care for politics. While I agree that politics is not the most stimulating subject to talk about or listen to, the policies that these people bring up will affect you in some way and you have the decision to be knowledgable on what is going on or to turn your attention away from the issues. Unfortunately there are more people turning away than informing themselves.

Mhowden's picture

I totally agree with your ideas and I think people need to be more educated about the things around them. There are so many ignorant people in the world that believe they know everything when they are actually very uneducated. This is one of the most annoy things I encounter when I talk to various people. I also agree that more young adults needed to vote in this election because we have the largest generation right now but we had the least amount of votes. More young adults need to realize that what happens now will impact us when we are older. I think more people in the US need to be educated and not so ignorant whether they are young or old. 

MMWagner's picture

I believe, especially now, it is so important for young people to be informed of what is going on around them. It helps us to make sound edcisions and limits our mistakes. Being uninformed can lead to more problems and we might not be able to fix them. Ignorance of the younger generations is a huge problem that is making itself apparent in huge numbers recently and it saddens me that this is what we deal with now. We have young adults who dont participate in elections because they dont care for politics. While I agree that politics is not the most stimulating subject to talk about or listen to, the policies that these people bring up will affect you in some way and you have the decision to be knowledgable on what is going on or to turn your attention away from the issues. Unfortunately there are more people turning away than informing themselves.

MMWagner's picture

I believe, especially now, it is so important for young people to be informed of what is going on around them. It helps us to make sound edcisions and limits our mistakes. Being uninformed can lead to more problems and we might not be able to fix them. Ignorance of the younger generations is a huge problem that is making itself apparent in huge numbers recently and it saddens me that this is what we deal with now. We have young adults who dont participate in elections because they dont care for politics. While I agree that politics is not the most stimulating subject to talk about or listen to, the policies that these people bring up will affect you in some way and you have the decision to be knowledgable on what is going on or to turn your attention away from the issues. Unfortunately there are more people turning away than informing themselves.

UM Zaravelis's picture

In concurrence with your statement, there are people who couldn't even figure out who Joe Biden was when his picture was shown to them, and there are even young people who couldn't correctly answer who won the American Civil War. But I think that there are people who try to inform themselves but they use the wrong means. Some people will listen to whatever they hear from one news source and blindly parrot it to their peers, and some will even believe what they see on social media sites like Facebook. It seems like you can make up a "fact" and people will repeat it and believe it as fact.

joslebla's picture

I agree, too many people do not understand that not everything they hear or read is true. 

Hawra Almukhreq's picture

I agree with you completely. People like to speak without understanding. They don't like to take the information from the original source. In fact, the spread of false information by people spread faster than the right information with the stated sources.

Hawra Almukhreq's picture

I agree with you completely. People like to speak without understanding. They don't like to take the information from the original source. In fact, the spread of false information by people spread faster than the right information with the stated sources.

umramsey's picture

In the chapter the section Why Get Involved states "all of us are motivated by deeply held concerns about the future and what is at stake for us" with that being said last night Donald Trump was elected to be the next president of the United States and all down my timeline on facebook I see so many mixed emotions and people of certain races and status who say they dont understand why some races are so hurt about the election. Which brings me back to the statment I just mentioned becasue everyone is motivated by different things and in this moment the people who Donald Trump dogged out during his campain are now concerned about the future and what is at stake for us. This chapter really hit home for me especially since Donald Trump was elected and I question so many things about The United States as a whole right now 

UMmoodie's picture

That part "people are motivated by different things" is truly the motto for what is happening now. The chapter also elaborated on that saying people may value the same thing but that doesn't mean they agree. The issue of security right now, which is also the example used in the chapter, on the right their idea of safety was to just deport all illegal immigrants to which the left rebutted and stated we would be safer if we were kinder and empathized with their situations. Both sides saw the issue of crime and threats to safety but both went at it in different ways.I think that's the main problem right now, everyone wants to solve the problem their way instead of collaborating and solving the problem as a unit.

UM Mrdeza's picture

One absolutely glorious point that the author delivers in Chapter six occurs in a story told about a woman dealing with a problem concerning rental properties. In the story, she did solve her problem, but her solution caused more problems than she alone solved. This notion is interesting and educational. Even though a person can solve a problem one-hundred percent in their mind, they themselves can still cause problems for others. This idea of how one person can cause more problems from one solution sounds depressing and dismal, which it indeed is, but there are solutions to even this conundrum. If that woman would have included those who she caused problems for during the implementation and development of her solution, there would have been more of a chance to lower the creation of more problems. In summation, the more chance that there is for more people to be included in problem solving, the better the solutions have a chance of being. The author brought up how the woman with the initial problem only solved her problem through facts. The author reasoned that this problem needed a solution provided by more than facts alone. The author claimed that the woman needed judgment to be able to come to a solution that was viable. This judgment could have been brought about just by the woman had she researched and deliberated the problem or by consultation with others about her situation. In her case, she just wanted retribution for her discomfort so she did not include judgment in her repair of the problem. It is important to shine light on the idea that facts do not solve problems on their own. Facts can without any doubt be used to inform people about a problem or possible solution, but without judgment, facts are helplessly useless. Knowing the unemployment rate of a city is not vital to solving a problem about homelessness. It can definitely help an argument for solving a problem concerning homelessness, but it cannot solve the problem on its own.

UM Korhonen's picture

After reading Chapter 6 "Citizens: Involved and Informed" I agree with what was stated within the chapter. On every politcal issue there are several different stories about each. With social media, peers, and legislators all telling us a different story, it is no surpise why the citizens fear to get involved with the government. This talk is even more relevant after the 2016 election has just taken place, and people are in fear and do not know what to do. Citizens do not think their voice is being heard with government issues, which tends to make the people give up. With conflict going on all throughout governement, the citizens want to stay out of it and keep the peace. I know that I would rather stay away from a topic that could contain conflict, rather than not caring. As citizens we need to be open to become more apart of the government. This is our country and we are what make it.

UM jennings's picture

Yes, I agree. It was very evident in this past election that many people fear to get involved in politics. There were many different stories about both candidates circulating around.  It confused people to a point where neither candidate was worth the hassle of voting for them.  Many people did not vote because they felt as though their vote did not matter. If you take all those people with that mentality and got them to vote, I believe the outcome of the election might have been a lot different. People do not realize how big of any impact they really have in politics. Our voices are the most important. We must step up and let our voices be heard, then we will be able to see the difference it can make in our communities. 

UMmoodie's picture

The ideas in this chapter have brought to light the issues currently plaguing the US. Persons are no longer basing their political views on who has the best policies and strategies to generate change in the social, economic and politcal realms. Presidential hopefuls are chosen on who best fits each person's ideological perspective. It seems as if all civilitiy was lost among Americans as two persons of opposing views could not and seemingly did not want to have meaningful discussions on the matter. Facts and rational judgement are being thrown out the window in favor of emotions. If anyone hopes to effect any change in the nation, citizens must come together and put aside differences and be able to have debates and share personal thoughts and experiences. As the chapter states that is how sound decisions are best made. When the decisions are sound and the voices of the people unified and unwavering the leaders will have no choice but to listen and act accordingly.

MMwascher's picture

While reading, I can across a portion of the text that said that most people want the same basic things, like being free from danger or having food to feed their family. The article says that the basic values (food, water, safety, etc.) are common to everyone. I believe that to a certain degree. Yes, all humans value food and safety and companionship but they do not all value them in the same order or in the same way. For example, a homeless man and a millionaire both love their food, I mean, who doesn't? However, a homeless man is going to value the smallest amount of food unlike a rich man who eats like kings everyday because of the money he makes. People value the same things but many are in a different order. For example, the farmer in the article valued his land and being able to keep his land but someone with no land would not have the same value on top of his list. I guess my point is all of us have values but all values are not common to everyone.

MMjohnson's picture

What you said here is all very true. I agree.. A poor man will be thankful for a simple slice of pizza while those who live the "good life" want veryhigh quality gourmet meals. A farmer would want to keep their land for money while a homeless man would want to keep their land so they can at least have a roof over their heads.

MMtrevithick's picture

I liked the example given in chapter 6 that two different citizens both desire security but the solution that each person wants does not work for the other due to ther unique situations. We need to be more aware that we all need and want similar things, but cannot achieve them through the same means. When looking for solutions to problems we need to look at everyone who is struggling with that problem. If a comprensive plan to improve aspects of life does not accomplish thay goal for the majority, then a comprise needs to be reached for the best interest of all. When we have get the short end of the stick on a comprise, we need to think about how the other side benefits and how we would comprise if we were in the same sitauation as those with the other end of the stick.

MMmrazik's picture

I understand where you are coming from, but have you thought about who holds the reign of power. Some countries don't have the privilege of the democracy that we have in the US. The values of others in different countries are pushed aside because of their governments lack of care for their people. Did Hitler decide to decide what everyone in Germany wanted before making concentration camps. I don't think so. When we came to North America, did we do what was best for the Native Americans or ourselves. Our leaders are a powerful influence on how we make decisions as a country and sometimes values are thrown out the window. I believe we need to be grateful that America now days has a system based on the value of the people. 

MMbundy's picture

I agree with you completely. We all want what we want and more often than not fail to take into account what others want or need. There is a saying that in a good compromise no one ends up happy. While I think that is often true, it is ultimately our choice whether we are happy or not. We can choose to make the best of our situations or not. We are the ones in control of our reactions. No one gains if we only focus on oursleves and are not aware of the feelings of others affected by the situation. Thank you for bringing this perspective to the conversation.

UM kidd's picture

He also spoke on peoples values and what it meant to him. I feel like his definition of values was the same as Carters in this article. To Carter values meant that it was the red ink in the Bible. To David values are essential things that people hold dear. I would say that thats equal because whenever a paper or article have little parts of the story on the side in different coloring or if its capitalized. If its in a bible it must be valuable enough to cherish and hold. Then again if he isnt a Christian person and dont think that thats true I would see why he said that, but nothings more cherishable than the words in the Bible.

UM Teachout's picture

Chapter 6: "Expert and Public Knowledge" This section describes the different types/levels of knowledge are and how they are viewed differently. Expert knowledge is described in this article as specific and exclusive. We have to ask ourselves, "Are the experts expressing their superior knowledge in the proper way? Are they attempting to educate the public (or representatives that can reiterate it to the public) in a way that can be understood and deciphered?" These are questions we have to ask ourselves when retaining new information. On the other hand, public knowledge is described as varied and inclusive. Public knowledge is related to human experience. This article helps readers understand the knowledge divide. I do not believe the article necessaraly agrees with the wording of the divide, but I think it was mentioned to remind the readers that there is a difference and that difference is described as, "superior and inferior." I think this section of Chapter 6 does a good job explaining that sometimes those who are said to have expert knowledge are skilled at stating important facts, but there is a disconnect whenthe public has a difficult time thinking about and explaining the process that generates the facts in question.

Ithayer's picture

In one of my comments, I stated that it is important for us to be educated in order to make a worthy opinion. You ask if the experts are attemting to educate in a manner that can be understood, and that makes me think about how hard it really is for us to be educated. Officials that we may look to for such answers do in fact make it very difficult for us to know exactly what is the matter at hand, or what point they are trying to get across. The system is corrupt and makes it hard for us to be politically educated. That is why it is important for us to go beyond them for research and information. We should epecially avoid the media bc they focus mostly on the negative sides of things.

Good point!

UM Mrdeza's picture

I do not like how expert knowledge is so exclusive. It is unreasonable to think of expert knowledge as not exclusive but regardless it is far away from common thought. It takes decades to become an expert on something and it would take far more than a human life to be an expert in ten subjects so society is left to having to consider expert knowledge. I also do not like expert knowledge because it has to come from experts. People who become experts usually live different lives than most Americans. Experts could attend college which needs strong financial backing. Getting a graduate degree which goes hand in hand with being an expert in a field is extremely expensive and is added on top of an undergraduate degree. Having a life of this nature separates these experts from what common Americans experience. This contrast in lifestyle and communication can cause problems. If this expert knowledge somehow had a hybrid existence with public knowledge, this new form of information would be easier to use. Your closing sentences bring up a good point about how the expert knowledge can even cause confusion with the public. For expert knowledge to work there has to be a trust between the public and experts. Without trust, there can be no exchange of knowledge.

UM Boyd's picture

During the time I was reading chapter 6 I kept thinking to myself a common question I hear often from my peers and myself and that is, why can't we all get along? After all, America is know as the land of the free. I often times think to myself, people from all over the world must view America as a place that signifies hope and unity because of its acceptance of all people. However, that concept alone raises questions and make you wonder how can a country  that is considered a melting pot of all kinds of people who differ in values ever come to common grounds on any issue ? Just as David Mathews mentioned, we must be able to  formulate decisions based upon wisdom and knowledge, instead of feelings and opinions. I believe that the most crucial aspect of evaluating issues and coming up with solutions is to understand completely the situation from all angles before even discussing decisions on it. When I think of this, I think about our congress, the people who wrote, vote, and enforce our laws that must be abide by citizens. It is understood that in America, we are allowed to vote for our political representatives for our local, state, and federal institutions however even with the right to elect people as your political figures there is still an issue with people debating on topics As it relates to being well educated and well informed on the different perspectives on the specific topic. In congress, you have representatives from all states that come together that debate on proposals, then once the bills are passed they move on to the Senate, then once the senate passes that bill is will be presented to the president and the Supreme Court will decide if the bill is constitutional or not. With knowing how checks and balances work in the United States you would assume that the elected officials would be well informed and knowledgable about every topic they debate about. In addition, consider what if the congress was made up of 70% of one political party and 70% one race and culture. Now again, we do get the opportunity to elect our public officials but what if the majority of Americans are one particular race and culture and that particular race and culture vote for the people that share their personal beliefs. The problem I am trying to state here is that, thereotically speaking, if about 70% of America is White, Christian, republican and 70% of congress also makes up White, Christian and American, are those representatives informed enough and knowledgable enough to make decisions that regarding issues that affect all Americans? This point that I am trying to make here refers back to what David was trying to address in his selection. If people are informed about other people experiences and cultures they are able to evaluate different alternative and solutions on certain topics instead of debating on issues with just a black and white perspective. If there are issues regarding inner cities that make up 90% of minories and educational recourses and these topics are debated by high income suburban officials on a federal level, how can decisions be made with complete knowledge of every aspect this issue affects? My first thought would relate back to what David addressed and that was we must be able to consider all of the fact, exchange experiences, expose a variety of diverse opinions, and be able to come to a come share of values. As, Americans regardless of ethicity, culture, and socioeconomic status we all want to live in a world free from enslavement, dictatorship, and bondage. I think it's best for people no matter what position you are in, to empathize with all groups of people and try to understand the values that different people have so that you can come together to formulate decisions that will be in the best interest for all Americans.  

Alisha Boyd

Ithayer's picture

Chapter six resonates with me especially now, with the election going on. I agree with the author that people are not involved enough in politics, and also that sometimes being involved isn't enough, and that it is also important to be informed in order to make wise and educated decisions. I feel this directly applies to today's young people and voting. Statistically speaking, younger people are less likely to vote, and I feel as though the main reason for this is because of a lack of education on political issues. Firstly, without a political education I don't think they ever even care to vote, being uninformed = being uninterested. If they don't know what issues exist or what is truly at stake, then they never feel compelled to have their voices heard. Voting is a freedom and a right that has been fought for and we, especially as young people, should exercise that right. Secondly, without a proper political education, how can we know we're making a wise choice? Our votes are not reaching their full potential unless we know what values matter to us, and ultimately how they will be affected by what or who we are voting for. We have to inform ourselves to form educated opinions in order to make educated decisions. We can have opinions about anything we want, but without knowing facts on the matter, our opinions will never have any real worth.

Don't be an uninformed citizen.

Don't be another statistic.

UM Tesluck's picture

Iyeesha, I didn't even think of it like that. What came to my mind during this election was "how could everyone else have been so lazy?" but now I'm considering what you said - maybe a lot of people were just uninformed and therefore, uninterested. But I also think a lot of people sat back and "let things happen" because they feel that their vote truly doesn't count anyways, which makes me sad. I also agree that without being truly informed that it's easy for one to make the "wrong" (for lack of better term) political decision. Maybe wrong isn't the right word - but the decision that obviously does not support the greater good for all of those involved.

Ithayer's picture

Yes, it saddens me too that people choose to let others make their decisions because they feel that their votes don't matter. I also agree that their not necessarily making the "wrong" political chioces, just that their choice would have greater worth and a fuller potential alongside a solid foundation. And also that they would definitely care more if they are more informed